Content Marketing

Kaboom! Google’s New Rules and Why They’re Great For The Web

Google likes to kick hornets’ nests, but not just for fun. Every few months the search engine, which delivers billions of page views to websites every day, tweaks something that causes webmasters to uproar. Sometimes the changes adversely affect good websites; more often the complainers are the ones who have figured out how to “work” the system that Google has now plugged leaks in.

It used to be buying links. Or creating dozens of spammy portal sites. Or writing keywords 100 times in a row in black text on a black background. Now, the prevailing search engine strategy seems to be mass production of mediocre content made for machine, not human, consumption.

Google just announced improvements that should make its searches surface better quality content, stating that while “pure webspam” has decreased, “attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content.”

It may be a while before we start to see changes. And some sites people label as “farms” may still rank very high; there’s good content among the muck, after all. But at the end of the day, here’s why we think the new Google rules are great news for the web:

1. Smaller publishers now have a chance to shine.

There’s great content out there on the web, and more of it getting produced every day. Yet most publishers don’t have the scientific analysis and SEO tricks up their sleeves that well-funded content farms do. The new rules will even the landscape so (hopefully) the visibility of a web page depends more on how good it is than how “optimized” it is for The Robots.

2. People will be discouraged from starting more content farms

Spam breeds spam. As soon as people see that something is working, they imitate. We won’t point fingers in this post, but if you search for a relatively long tail topic like “garden hose care,” 6 of the 10 front page Goodle results, including the top 3, are from different content farms. Where are the experts anymore? Google’s changes should hopefully help surface those experts from among the random regurgitation of fluff.

3. A shift away from ad-driven SEO content means higher quality

Ad-driven content doesn’t have to be good; in fact it helps if it kind of sucks, so you’ll click on a more useful-looking ad (generally smattered all over the page). Once the focus goes away from ROI on long tail search terms, the focus naturally goes to things like making stuff people like to read. The content farms will hopefully start producing better content because of Google’s changes.

I’m not saying everything from all the content farms is bad. Shoot, I’ve been guilty of trying to work Google in the past with my own websites. Yet in my quest for the almighty Adsense dollar, my view on content has changed. Quality trumps quantity, whether you’re talking about chocolate or the English language.

Our hypothesis

The metrics for good content shouldn’t be their search engine rank. People will figure out what’s good and what’s mediocre, and they’ll jump to the good stuff through social media. Search engines may be behind on the social trend, but they’ll catch up. The future of content on the web is in shareability, not in long-tail robo-readability. At Contently, we hope to help companies out in the shareable content creation department, but first we’ve got to train ourselves (and to some extent, freelance writers who are used to writing for machines) to demand the good stuff.

Bring on the hornets, Google. Bring ‘em on.

Image by Flickr Steven W.
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